London Welsh have handed an Aviva Premiership opportunity to Royal Air Force and Henley Hawks second row Weapons Technician, Senior Aircraftman Josh McNally.
McNally, 23, is based at Royal Air Force Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and in 2012/13 helped Henley Hawks to National League Two South success in his first season at the club, and was a key component of the Brize Norton side that has been crowned Royal Air Force inter-Station champions for the past two years.
Commenting on joining London Welsh McNally said: “I am really excited to get this opportunity to test myself in the demanding environment of Premiership Rugby and to be joining a club with such a proud history as London Welsh. I am extremely grateful to the Royal Air Force for allowing me this opportunity.”
London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell said: “Josh caught my eye last year when we played Henley in a pre-season friendly. He’s 2.01m and 122kg and he really impressed me in that game at Dry Leas.
“When I subsequently spoke to Henley coach Pete Davies he confirmed my assessment of Josh and once I met with him I was confident that he’d fit in to our environment at London Welsh.
“The fact that Josh is joining us from Henley and is based at RAF Brize Norton just serves to further increase strengthen the club’s ever increasing links to Oxford.”
A former pupil of Aylestone School, NcNally went on to study at Herefordshire College of Technology. He played for Luctonians while at school and college and while undergoing recruit training at Royal Air Force Halton and his technical training at Royal Air Force Cosford.
Posted to Lincolnshire in 2010, he played for Peterborough in National 3 Midlands. The following season he moved to Spalding where he played a full season. In 2011 he was selected to play for the winning Combined Services Under 23 team against Oxford and Cambridge Under 23s at Twickenham.
McNally was posted to RAF Brize Norton in September 2012 in conjunction with the Royal Air Force Rugby Union Centre of Excellence Scheme.
The same year he was picked to represent the RAF in the inaugural International Defence Rugby Competition in Australia and New Zealand.
In November 2013 he was selected to represent the Combined Services side to play against the BaaBaas in the prestigious annual Remembrance Day fixture.
He began last season by lining up against London Welsh in a friendly at Dry Leas and played National League One with Henley.
Station Commander, Royal Air Force Brize Norton, Group Captain Lushington, said: “This is great news for Josh and for the Royal Air Force. Josh is a talented rugby player and now has a fantastic opportunity to train and develop himself with London Welsh and then to bring that back to his Royal Air Force career and to Royal Air Force Rugby.”
Director of Royal Air Force Rugby, Group Captain Chris Moore said: “The Royal Air Force works hard to attract and recruit good rugby players and will always provide support to help them achieve their ambitions on and off the pitch. We look forward to watching Josh develop with London Welsh and hope to see more of our players following a similar route.”